Lifestyle, Curb-Appeal Updates Rejuvenate Mid-Century Split Level

Filed in Design, Remodeling by on May 3, 2017 3 Comments

before and afterWhile rock ’n’ roll revolutionized music and culture in the 1960s, split-level homes were taking the nation’s booming suburbs by storm.

More spacious inside at a more affordable price than a same-sized Colonial or Cape Cod, split-levels quickly caught on, and our suburbs thrived on their popularity.

For today’s home owners and buyers, though, the look and layout of these homes often leaves something to be desired. They can appear top heavy and ill-proportioned from the streets. Interiors that seemed spacious back then feel chopped up and cramped today.

To make one 1960s split level in a sought-after Northern Virginia neighborhood more appealing and livable, the architectural design-build firm Sun Design transformed it inside and out.

Where the original front door was set back from the larger, two-story section of the house, Sun Design built the entrance out from the house, adding a gable-roofed front porch with wooden columns.

“We wanted to make the entrance more welcoming, spacious and practical,” said Bob Gallagher, president of Sun Design. “The covered, raised porch allowed for all that. It draws the eye to the front door and opened the way for an expanded foyer with built-in storage.”

  • Replacing dated aluminum siding with today’s width, colors and materials — perhaps using vertical siding on one section and trim under the roofline — can add character and update any split level’s exterior.
  • Installing larger windows — or more of them — will lighten and balance the exterior look and open up the inside to natural light and views. Window frames in an accent color that highlights their geometry will add visual interest to the facade. On a large front-facing garage door, windows across the top, down one side, or in an interesting pattern of rectangles can enliven the monolithic look.
  • Adding peaked dormers to upstairs rooms can break up an expanse of roof and open the rooms inside to cheerful natural light.
  • Removing an interior wall to join the kitchen with a dining or family room can add just the space to make the house breathe and create a gathering place for everyday family activities and for visiting friends.
  • Taking out stairwell walls or the partial walls between a stairwell and the upper level and replacing them with a railing and balusters of metal or wood can create a much more open feel. Or use a modern no-riser stairway to give that split level interior an airier appearance.


lving before

The living room before the renovation.

For Sun Design’s renovation, the floor plan became larger and more open when they bumped out the rear elevation and built an addition to the side of the house.

“Enlarging and relocating the kitchen created an inviting space to eat and gather,”  said Gallagher. “The new gourmet kitchen features enhanced views, improved natural lighting, and a breakfast banquette.”

living room

After the renovation, the living room is brighter, airier.


As the potential of these homes built decades ago continues to be realized for today’s owners, NAHB is proudly celebrating its 75th anniversary. Since 1942, NAHB has continually played a critical role in serving its members to advance the home building industry.

Visit and take a look back at many other significant housing trends and milestones in American history.

75th anniversary

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Comments (3)

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  1. The transformation of that split level is insane! Kudos to Sun Design for that amazing feat. If only they could transform every split level home in America. The windows, dormers, new entrance, it was all a great vision come true.

  2. Aggie says:

    Hi The 1960’s Splitlevel in Nothern Virginia revamped looks amazing!
    Would you be able to tell me what paint colors they used?
    I love the colors.My husband &I want to paint our Bilevel the same colors for our 30 Anniversary.
    Amazing transformation on the Splitlevel!
    Look forward to hearing from you!
    Aggie Clark

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